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Ben and Sam discuss San Diego's hiring of A.J. Preller and what they would look for in a general manager.

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June 25, 2014 6:00 am

Top GM Candidates


BP Staff

Who are some of the strongest candidates in line for the top front office job?

After the news broke that the Padres had fired General Manager Josh Byrnes, a wave of questions hit the social sphere about potential candidates for the position, questions that have been stuck on a shelf for nearly 1,000 days thanks to unprecedented continuity in the front office ranks. Everybody loves a good list, so I decided to take a page out of the prospect team handbook and poll members of the Baseball Prospectus staff and industry sources alike, asking for their thoughts on the top up-and-coming personnel stars in baseball. The goal of this exercise is to take the temperature of the moment, showing the readers which candidates are held in the highest regard by their peers when put on the spot for an answer; the goal is not to exclude talented baseball minds who are equally qualified and capable of achieving such career heights but just so happen to escape the tips of the tongues of those surveyed. Because of my specific professional relationships, I removed myself from the voting process and limited my participation to compiling the votes of confidence and organizing the personnel capsules (written by various staff members) that will accompany the list. –Jason Parks

Candidate: John Coppolella
Current role: Assistant General Manager (Braves)
Skill set: A rising star in the industry for some time, the former student manager for the Notre Dame football team has injected the characteristics of winning into his DNA through nearly 15 years experience with the two most successful franchises in the modern era (Yankees/Braves). Coppolella is fluent in both the esoteric language of scouting (he still directs pro scouting for the Braves) and the importance of advanced statistical analysis, a marriage of information management that would allow him to thrive at the helm of a team as a younger upside play. It’s an eventuality that both the writers at Baseball Prospectus (he received the most votes) and his peers in the industry think happens sooner rather than later.

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Ben and Sam banter about the Nationals, then discuss where the Padres went wrong and whether Josh Byrnes deserved his dismissal.

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The firing of Josh Byrnes ends a period of unprecedented GM job security. Did he deserve to get the axe?

In March, I wrote about the unprecedented job security major-league general managers have enjoyed over the previous two-plus years. Led by the long-tenured Brian Sabean, Billy Beane, Brian Cashman, and Dan O’Dowd (who was forced to share the throne but hasn’t been relieved of his duties), GMs have seen their occupation, historically a high-turnover one in which on-field success was the only sure route to remaining employed, morph into one that comes standard with the owner’s commitment to stay the course, even if it means suffering through some lean times. Accordingly, I dubbed the new strain of nearly unemployment-proof GMs the “Duracell GM Generation”—a cohort of front-office head honchos who last.

On Sunday, Josh Byrnes’ battery died. Byrnes, the Padres’ GM since October 26, 2011, became the first GM fired since the Astros axed Ed Wade on November 27, 2011. That’s a streak of 938 firing-free days—by far the longest such streak over at least the last four decades, even though baseball’s expansion to 30 teams has created more opportunities for a change to take place.

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Ben and Sam discuss the Giants' offseason and their thoughts on Brian Sabean and other general managers.

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A WARP-based look at the GMs who've had the most and least success on the trade market over the past two decades.

Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers, and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Tim Malone is an ex-engineer/ex-Angeleno with degrees from UCLA and UW in Bioengineering and Biostatistics who lives in the Seattle area with his family. His likes include coconut, peanut butter, tools, and conversations with strangers. His dislikes include runny eggs, bad champagne, mindless repetition, and conversations with strangers. The return of Major League Baseball to Seattle warms his soul.

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Ben and Sam discuss whether hardcore quantitative analysts make good GM material, then estimate the likelihood that under-30 players will make the Hall of Fame.

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Ben and Sam answer listener emails about Ian Kinsler, how to decide when it's time to change GMs, R.A. Dickey and the dome, and more.

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Unhappy with the return your team's general manager received in a trade? Jonah offers one possible explanation.

While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.

Do GMs sometimes act in their own interests instead of their teams'? Jonah explored the possibility in the piece reprinted below, which was originally published as an "Avoiding Dissonance" column on April 25, 2002.

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You can't predict baseball, no matter how high-ranking you are.

The answer is they are smart. Come on guys, be serious. Of course they're smart. 


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Ben and Sam discuss what the Ervin Santana trade says about the Royals' rotation and the pitching market, then talk about what Rick Hahn's ascension to the GM role in Chicago means for the future of front offices.

Ben and Sam discuss what the Ervin Santana trade says about the Royals' rotation and the pitching market, then talk about what Rick Hahn's ascension to the GM role in Chicago means for the future of front offices.

Episode 74: "The Ervin Santana Trade, The Royals' Rotation, and the Pitching Market/Rick Hahn and the Future of Front Offices"

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BP's resident former GM explains what the deadline is like for the people pulling the trigger on trades.

As we announced earlier this month, former Los Angeles Dodgers GM, major-league executive, and player agent Dan Evans has joined Baseball Prospectus as a regular contributor. In his first article, he explains what the trade deadline is like from a general manager's perspective. Dan will be answering your questions in his chat this Wednesday at 1:00 PM ET, so submit your questions now.

Tension? Absolutely. Anxiety? Sure. Pressure? Without a doubt. Enjoyment? No question.

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